Navroz, meaning ‘New Day,’ marks the beginning of the new year in the Persian calendar. Navroz has been celebrated by many cultures and religions for thousands of years. Over 2,500 years ago, the Persian Prophet Zoroaster, founder of the religion of Zoroastrianism, dedicated this ancient festival to spiritual renewal.
In Zoroastrianism, Navroz is the seventh feast marking the end of the six days of creation. On this day, fire was created and the world was given life. For the Zoroastrians, it is a festival of renewal. In preparation for New Year’s Day, seven kinds of seeds were sown beforehand, whose shoots come up green and fresh on the day of Navroz, symbolizing new growth. The growing of barley was viewed as a particular blessing by the King of Persia. Navroz was a celebration observed by a people involved in agriculture and deeply connected to the land. Today, Navroz is celebrated on March 21, which coincides with the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere.
Unlike other religious festivals that remember an event or a person, Navroz focuses on nature and spirit; it is tied to the changing of the season and the renewal of the land. In the Qur’an, God has entrusted humans with two tasks: to be His servant, and to be the steward of His creation. Navroz is a time for spiritual renewal and a time to reflect on humankind’s responsibility towards God’s magnificent creation.
Let the once dead earth be a sign to them. We gave it life, and from it produced grain for their sustenance. We planted it with palm and the vine and watered it with gushing springs, so that men might feed on its fruit. It was not their hands that made all this. Should they not give thanks?
Mary Boyce. A Persian Stronghold of Zoroastrianism, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1977
Research by Nimira Dewji